How Necessary is the Third QB for the New York Giants?

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How Necessary is the Third QB for the New York Giants?
(Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

When a team has as much talent across the board as the Giants do, every roster spot is important.  With that thought in mind, the Giants elected to keep only two QBs active last season.  Both Eli Manning and David Carr have shown to be extremely tough and durable QBs in their careers and the Giants decided not to keep a third guy.

Most pundits across the media would look at this type of move as "risky," but why? Is it because something like this is rarely done so it must be a risk? Looking at the stats what the Giants did wasn't risky at all, it was logical.

If the Giants were to do the same thing this season, they would stash their third QB on the practice squad just like last season. The "risk" here is that another team could pluck that player and leave the Giants without their third backup. 

However, when you pluck a player off another team's practice squad, that team is required to activate the player to the roster immediately. 

That means the only team that would ever do that would have already gone through at least two of their own QBs and possibly three or four, before taking a guy not even deemed talented enough to be the primary backup.

So who actually uses three QBs in a typical NFL season? In 2008 only three teams had three QBs throw at least 20 passes. They were: 

Detroit: Kitna (120 att), Culpepper (115 att), Orlovsky (255 att)

Cleveland: Brady (89 att), Anderson (283 att), Dorsey (91 att), Gradkowski (21 att)

KC: Thigpen (420 att) , Croyle (29 att), Huard (81 att)

Of these teams, only Cleveland would have fallen under the category described as possible practice squad poachers and even they didn't do it to get Gradkowski when they needed him. Cleveland signed him off the street probably because he had some NFL experience where as practice squad players almost certainly don't.

Maybe that was just an aberration.  Just to be sure, here are the numbers for 2007:

Miami: Lemon (309) Green (141) Beck (107)

Oakland: McCown (190) Culpepper (186)  Russell (66)

Atlanta: Leftwhich (58) Harrington (348)  Redman (149)

Carolina: Delhomme (86) Carr (136) Testaverde (172) Moore (111)

Minnesota: Jackson (294)  Holcombe (83) Bollinger (50)

Of those teams, the only possible poachers would be the Panthers as they had to go so far as to pull Testaverde off the scrap heap. Just like Cleveland last year, they chose to go with a guy off the street who had NFL experience rather than take a chance on a young guy who has not taken one snap in the NFL. 

Neither of those teams were successful with their choices, but that's what happens when you lose two QB's to injury in the same season.  The third QB is third for a reason: he's not as talented as the other guys ahead of him. 

In the unlikely event the third QB is poached and the team ends up needing him, (both of which are extreme long shots) they are just as well picking a retread off the street as they would be throwing a rookie project into the fire.

So the final question becomes, where is that roster spot best used?  Would they get more from it if they kept a player like David Tyree who performs on special teams but might not make the squad due to the numbers at WR, or would they get more from that spot by keeping Rhett Bomar or Andre Woodson?

The answer to that question remains to be seen but its certainly something to keep an eye on as training camp progresses.

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